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Bear with me: Stitches @TheHopeTheatre

What if your teddy bear could talk? My ten-year-old self would think that to be excellent. My more recent self would think it was a high-concept buddy movie with Mark Wahlberg. But in Stictches, Jonathan Blakeley's monologue, which he has written and performed, traces the life of his beloved Chloe, from when she was first given to him by her grandmother, wrapped with a red ribbon. It becomes a story not just about a cute bear (or maybe that should be rough, shaggy-looking bear given the performer’s appearance) observing life but an exploration of life and all of its stages. It's currently playing at the Hope Theatre .  The bear is not warm and fuzzy; he is a bit of a character and tough-talking, but also a bit anxious about being accepted and then discarded as nothing. But he is there to bear witness as she navigates the complicated facets of growing up and having a life. Ultimately, the bear has to deal with being consigned to a box with her other memories until circumstances

Romford burning: A Local Boy @ThePleasance

It had only a short run but A Local Boy which concluded yesterday at the Pleasance Islington is a great new piece of writing by Dan Murphy. The dialogue is funny and incisive about the cruel trials and traumas of today's youth, where anything is fair game and everything is online.

It is a world where there is no privacy and sometimes this has unforeseen consequences. This time there has been an incident at the local war memorial in Romford where young people hang out and drink.

A boy has been killed. Burned beyond recognition. A mother worries for her son who is out. A girl is waiting at a bus stop for someone who does not show. And two teenagers find love online. Through a series of flashbacks and cuts, their shocking and sad stories emerge.

Murphy has a real feel for natural dialogue and the cast be bring this tale to life with humour and tenderness. With simple staging the actors and the dialogue do the work to evoke the humour and harshness of life in outer London for young people.

Tim Bowie as the young lad looking for love online and likes a bit of a laugh. Abigail Rose as the pragmatic young girl looking to lose her virginity. Ross McCormack as the seemingly laid back lad who likes to drink in the park where men have sex with men.

A Local Boy is the result of eleven months of reserach and development with writer in residence Dan Murphy. It has been part of theatre company Invertigo's Creative Shed programme, a collaborative approach to developing new work. Keep an eye out for their future productions...


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